While U.S. companies "missed the boat" on Nigeria's shift from fixed-line to wireless telecommunications, they are playing an active role in the energy sector and could do more to drive an agricultural renaissance in a country that once exported food but has become the world's largest consumer of U.S. wheat.
The audience asked the ambassador tough questions on the country's relations with the U.S., seeking explanations for travel warnings and visa rejections, as well as why foreign firms aren't held liable by their home countries for rampant pollution in the oil sector.
Mr. McCulley stood firm, noting that it was up to Nigerians to put in place the institutional framework to deal with such issues, and that starts with ending the "culture of impunity" among the elite.
"It's important to move forward with prosecutions of corrupt public and private individuals demonstrating that Nigeria really is open for business and that the tremendous opportunity that the country represents can be realized," the ambassador said.
In an interview with Global Atlanta, he added that small and medium-sized companies worried about corruption should take advantage of the embassy's annual Nigerian investment climate report and database of more than 4,000 companies and organizations vetted for partnerships with American firms.
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